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Masks only 'highly encouraged' for Nashville students, staff this fall

Metro school bus
Posted at 2:22 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 16:26:34-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — Metro Nashville Public Schools will now only "highly encourage" students and staff to wear masks in classrooms this fall.

A MNPS spokesperson confirmed the policy change, which differs from last school year. The school board will vote on the measure during its meeting Tuesday night, with no expected changes to the policy expected to happen before or after the meeting.

In a decision last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated teachers or students don't have to wear masks in the classroom. The CDC asked for those not vaccinated to continue wearing masks, particularly indoors and crowded areas. Earlier this summer, MNPS relaxed its guidelines for its summer programming. Then, the policy iterated only students and staff were required to wear masks when social distancing wasn't possible.

While the CDC has that guidance, MNPS won't enforce any mask requirement, according to documents provided to the school board.

Per those documents, school nurses will continue to conduct contract tracing. And per the CDC, the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of infected students.

Additionally, vaccinated students or staff won't have to quarantine if no are symptoms present, according to MNPS documents. Throughout the school year, MNPS officials will monitor community transmission rates as well as COVID cases in schools to determine whether mandatory mask requirements will become necessary again.

In lockstep, the Wilson County Board of Education approved updated COVID policies and procedures before the start of the school year. There, mask will also become optional for staff and students, and the only requirement is that they are within the district’s dress code.

The MNPS board meets at 5 p.m.